Welcome to House With No Name. I write about everything from books and films to education, family and France.
Sitting in Oxford, with the number 7 bus trundling past and Marks & Spencer just up the road, I sometimes think the house with no name must be a figment of my imagination. Am I going to wake up one day and discover that the tumbledown French farmhouse that inspired this blog was just a dream? Definitely not. It all looked splendidly real when we sat in the courtyard in ...keep reading
Slowly, slowly, the French farmhouse I bought on a mad whim back in 2006 is coming back to life. My husband and children always promised it would but, being a wimp, I had my doubts. We still haven’t managed to sleep a night there yet, but the tumbledown six-bedroom wreck with half a roof, terrible damp problem and bathroom inhabited by a plague of rats is looking – and I ...keep reading
My must-see TV of the week is Channel 4’s Jamie’s Dream School – the series where Jamie Oliver gets a host of celebrities to teach 20 tricky teenagers who’ve left school with barely any qualifications. The science teacher is fertility expert Lord Winston (who’s already hit the headlines for getting the boys in the class to study their own sperm). History is taught by Dr David Starkey, politics by spin ...keep reading
“If you’re after a brilliantly-written love story that never slides into sentimentality, David Nicholls’s One Day is just the ticket. Nicholls trained as an actor before switching to writing – his first novel, Starter for Ten, was made into a film starring James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall and he wrote the recent TV adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. His third novel is a funny ‘“will they, won’t they?’” romance ...keep reading
As book clubs go, Grazia’s must be one of the starriest. The event, held at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, boasts champagne, cup cakes, goody bags and celebrity guests. When Emma Freud interviewed Sarah Brown about her newly-published Behind the Black Door this month, the audience included the likes of actor Bill Nighy, Four Weddings and a Funeral creator Richard Curtis and Grazia editor Jane Bruton. I was mesmerised by Nighy, chic ...keep reading
Walking past the florist’s shop at this time of year makes me sad. They’re getting ready for Mother’s Day and the pavement outside is filled with baskets of fragrant white hyacinths and delicate pink tulips that are still in bud. Mother’s Day is bitter-sweet these days. I long to send my mum flowers wrapped in brown paper and tied with ribbon, fix lunch and catch up with all the gossip ...keep reading